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netg
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:14 PM
So I love very forward horses. My horse is one on a normal day. However, if he feels anything "off" with me, he instead tries to babysit and drag his toes and move like a slug.

Yesterday was one example, and I knew it was coming before I rode. It was windy and cold (well, the wind was cold) so my asthma was acting up. My inhaler was keeping me breathing ok, just not my normal breathing. My horse, being a saint about that sort of thing, decided it meant he had to go slowly and take care of me. (He still went each gait I requested, and as he seems to think trot lengthenings are a different gait than trot, he went right into them when requested, so certainly it was nothing wrong with him.)


I need to talk myself into pushing for forward more when he's like that. He's trying to be a good boy, so certainly doesn't need punishment, and he WILL go more forward... if I talk myself into it. So please give me a "you're ruining your horse if you're not working him properly!" lecture to remind me to not be lazy even on the days he's not as forward as I'm used to. My trainer's too nice, and just nicely tells me to work on having him more forward all the time. :)

SisterToSoreFoot
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:21 PM
Cute story you've set up with horsey taking care of you when you aren't feeling well. Closer to the truth is that he's HAPPY you're low energy because it means he doesn't really have to work!

Don't let him take advantage of you that way. He goes forward, every ride. He isn't a magikal pony who helps the sick and ailing. He's a LAZY pony.

Leg. Then whip. Repeat.

Amchara
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:23 PM
You're the jockey. Its you're decision what kind of ride you have.

netg
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:40 PM
Don't let him take advantage of you that way. He goes forward, every ride. He isn't a magikal pony who helps the sick and ailing. He's a LAZY pony.

Exactly what I need to be "yelled" at and told, thanks!


I know how to get forward. I know how to demand it. I just have to keep the above mindset and make myself do it!

stryder
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:47 PM
Is he lazy?

I don't think there's anything wrong with a horse that wants to work with you and doesn't ignore you. Personally, I am grateful that my mare can feel when I'm a bit off-balance and was trained (and chooses to) move under me to restore balance.

If your horse promptly responds to your request to become more forward, isn't that enough? That said, there's nothing wrong with having a higher expectation for both of you - you as the asker, he as the responder.

Petstorejunkie
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:51 PM
Closer to the truth is that he's HAPPY you're low energy because it means he doesn't really have to work!
Don't let him take advantage of you that way. ...He's a LAZY pony.
Leg. Then whip. Repeat.

This statement is a bit depressing to me. I find that horses enjoy work and being ridden :yes:. It should be fun for them, and I find having a negative mindset like above is more stifling than the OP's perception.

OP I'd dissect a bit more how your energy, and more importantly, your breathing effects your equitation. A lack of breath is a lack of "energy flow" throughout the body. you may find that when you are not breathing from deep down in your belly that perhaps you activate a retarding leg in your thigh, or you turn your toes out, or slouch and lose bit connection.
Use it as an opportunity to look at how to overcome those moments within YOU, and not how to whack your horse into a numbness to precision.

MontanaDun
Feb. 9, 2011, 12:55 PM
I think your horse is taking care of you.

It surely sounds like if you step up your energy and focus he is completely agreeable.

Disagree that whupping up on an agreeable horse because the rider is feeling like crap and not fully engaged with the ride is a) fair b) beneficial.

Maybe on days you aren't feeling all that great, you go out for a trail ride or do something low key where you can appreciate your good pal. You might also want to experiment around a little bit with how changing your breathing changes how your horse goes. Exhaling into your up transitions often makes them much more fluid.

Good luck.

netg
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:06 PM
OP I'd dissect a bit more how your energy, and more importantly, your breathing effects your equitation. A lack of breath is a lack of "energy flow" throughout the body. you may find that when you are not breathing from deep down in your belly that perhaps you activate a retarding leg in your thigh, or you turn your toes out, or slouch and lose bit connection.
Use it as an opportunity to look at how to overcome those moments within YOU, and not how to whack your horse into a numbness to precision.


Very good point. Guaranteed I was slouching more and probably reverting to leaning forward more. For sure I wasn't holding up contact as well as I should.


I'd never actually whack my horse into submission - he's by far the easiest horse I've ever worked with as far as improving, desire to work most of the time, etc. It tends to feel like cheating, which is why I don't demand forward ALL the time and use "he's taking care of me" as reason not to. I'm sure my riding is at fault, but he should be forward anyway.

I believe if I just think "no, we ARE going forward today!" that we'll probably be forward because of how my attitude will affect my riding, no whacking or reprimanding needed.


I think your horse is taking care of you.

It surely sounds like if you step up your energy and focus he is completely agreeable.

Disagree that whupping up on an agreeable horse because the rider is feeling like crap and not fully engaged with the ride is a) fair b) beneficial.

Maybe on days you aren't feeling all that great, you go out for a trail ride or do something low key where you can appreciate your good pal. You might also want to experiment around a little bit with how changing your breathing changes how your horse goes. Exhaling into your up transitions often makes them much more fluid.

Good luck.

I have a tendency to vertigo - and on those days, he has made some very interesting maneuvers to stay under me when it hit. I dismount asap when it happens, because that's asking a lot out of him to expect him to keep me on his back! So he *definitely* does try to take care of me when needed. He then gets copious turnout, and I have a friend or my trainer ride him if it lasts a few days.

I basically felt ok yesterday, but am not as strong when I've had to use my inhaler (thus the guarantee on my posture, and I would expect different leg use as well, though he generally doesn't need much leg to keep forward going.) Interesting thoughts on my thighs possibly restricting forward, too. I tend to doubt that because downward transitions from my seat/legs still happened immediately, not as if there were muddling of signals, but it's something I'll pay attention to!


As I drove to work this morning I noticed dust obscuring all the mountains around town, so I expect to have to take this advice to heart tonight, too!

stryder
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:08 PM
This statement is a bit depressing to me. I find that horses enjoy work and being ridden :yes:. It should be fun for them, and I find having a negative mindset like above is more stifling than the OP's perception.



ditto.

stryder
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:11 PM
Very good point. Guaranteed I was slouching more and probably reverting to leaning forward more. For sure I wasn't holding up contact as well as I should.

...

I'm sure my riding is at fault, but he should be forward anyway.

I believe if I just think "no, we ARE going forward today!" that we'll probably be forward because of how my attitude will affect my riding, no whacking or reprimanding needed.

It's always easier to blame the horse. Look to yourself first, and then see what's left to "fix." Might not be much, at all.

naturalequus
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:13 PM
Is he lazy?

I don't think there's anything wrong with a horse that wants to work with you and doesn't ignore you. Personally, I am grateful that my mare can feel when I'm a bit off-balance and was trained (and chooses to) move under me to restore balance.

If your horse promptly responds to your request to become more forward, isn't that enough? That said, there's nothing wrong with having a higher expectation for both of you - you as the asker, he as the responder.

I don't think he's lazy either, the level of partnership (or the type of horse who just does it naturally of their own accord, regardless) where a horse will self-adjust to suit you is to be rewarded, not punished and considered lazy. I appreciate it when my horses self-adjust. When my high-energy, spunky, playful 6yo TB takes care of the 7yo on his back, or when he picks up the slack between jumps if I make a mistake...or when my mom's 6yo TB strides out with a high level of impulsion for me, but then instantly reduces his impulsion to suit her (lower) confidence and experience level, or that of his two novice lessees. I was injured at the track but still had to ride my Quarab on the track (ponying) nonetheless - I can tell you those first few days especially I appreciated his adjusting to help me out! I literally dragged myself into the saddle (I could barely walk, let alone ride or saddle/mount my horse) - he stood stock-still and didn't jar me on the ride, taking care of me every step of the way when I needed it. I wouldn't punish your horse for acting like a partner or he'll stop acting like a partner - slowly, in all ways.

Maybe he IS lazy and just taking advantage. In that case, learn to be more assertive (but fairly). By your description though OP, it sounds more like he is taking care of you. I wouldn't punish that trait (though based on your OP you do not intend to, just mentioning it since others have responded to punish), though you CAN ask him for more forward if you figure you are okay. Sort of a "thanks bud for taking care of me but I'm okay, I got it!" I think the key too is to look within - not to push him forward but to adjust yourself so he feels okay to move out.

Besides that, I would try exercises such as the point-to-point I've suggested on other threads (courtesy of Jonathan Field). Halt at one specific point in the arena, then ask (in phases) for him to move out to another specific point in the arena (loooong lines as opposed to short ones, which will install more woah on a horse with too much go). Do NOT nag in between and when he gets to Point B, halt exactly on the spot you selected. The longer he takes to get there (ie, the more he drags his toes), the longer he rests. Then turn and ask for Point B (2) and so forth. Be assertive in your phases, but release as soon as he is doing the gait you ask for - only correct if he drops the gait, not if he goes slow within the gait. The goal is reverse psychology and to offer him a guaranteed incentive (ie, rest) - when he can anticipate the reward, he will try harder. Transitions and changes in pace within a gait (say, on a 20m circle, PREDICTABLE transitions within the trot) will also increase impulsion. I've never had BOTH of the above exercises - if done properly, not work on ANY horse to increase impulsion. Besides that, I might wiggle a dressage whip at a hind - a sort of "thanks bud, but this is actually what I want - thanks!". Any of the above will rev him up a little and let him know it's okay to add impulsion. If he's really set on helping you out and just won't step out, I'd focus more on the cue such as wiggling your dressage whip, and focusing on correcting yourself most.

naturalequus
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:17 PM
Upon reading more of your (later) explanation OP, I have to continue to side with the others and the other suggestions too. Definitely sounds like a horse in sync with you, which is GOOD. Focus on yourself. Maybe use some of the exercises mentioned in addition. Take it easy on days you feel bad - take him out on a hack over hills (granted you have them) to maintain and further build his level of fitness while toning down the demands of the actual work involved (which will maybe even more easily allow you to focus and correct YOU). It's just about finding that balance when working together and learning how to tell him it's okay and you still want him to move out.

I think it's great you consider your horse's perspective as well - that is what it is all about. Considering what HE thinks, wants, needs, and finding that balance.

netg
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:51 PM
I think it's great you consider your horse's perspective as well - that is what it is all about. Considering what HE thinks, wants, needs, and finding that balance.

With his exceptional mind, I would be a fool not to! He's not actually lazy, but thinking of him as lazy will help me adjust myself as I need to. It takes more determination on my part to ride well if I don't feel as perfect!


Why I say he's not lazy: I'm guessing he runs about 15 miles a week on his own. I turn him out, and he gallops. It's an estimate based on how much time he spends galloping and the knowledge he wasn't the best race horse, but was intended for distance. When he sees me coming, he leaves his hay to stick his head over the fence and hold his halter out to me. Definitely more interested in work than food! And he practices dressage after finishing his runs. He has a set leg yield/haunches in/shoulder in sequence he repeats on long sides. Then he starts practicing transitions between working and extended trot across diagonals. Definitely not averse to work or forward!

johnnysauntie
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:52 PM
OP, you're not alone. I got a butt-kicking at my lesson on Monday for the remarkable lack of forward I've installed in the mare. (If you want the grisly details, here you go: http://collectingtbs.com/2011/02/07/go-forward-now/ ) In a nutshell, my trainer got after me because I was having to kill myself to establish and maintain a good forward trot. I was panting, the mare? la la la, what? there's a human on my back? I hadn't noticed. La la la.

I have systematically uninstalled my forward gears over the last few months, as I've been focusing on other things like fixing my leg position, getting the confidence to trot without stirrups, and recovering from a bout of bronchitis that has compromised my breathing and endurance. So, I feel you.

Luckily for me, the mare is sensitive. A well timed pop with the whip when she ignores a more polite request for a more forward attitude will likely be all I need. That, and the intestinal fortitude to administer said pop, though the mare has a long track record of being very reasonable when she does get the (very) occasional smack.

For what it's worth, my post about forward elicited a number of comments from others with a similar problem. We are not alone! :)

Petstorejunkie
Feb. 9, 2011, 01:59 PM
Very good point. Guaranteed I was slouching more and probably reverting to leaning forward more. For sure I wasn't holding up contact as well as I should.
Every bone, muscle and nerve of your body tells your horse something while you are riding.



... but he should be forward anyway. Why should he ignore your equitative request to slow down, albeit a subconscious one? It's already amazing enough they can feel through wood, steel, leather and sheepskin what your minute muscles are doing; I think its a stretch for them to realize when you don't mean what you are communicating to them as well.


I believe if I just think "no, we ARE going forward today!" that we'll probably be forward because of how my attitude will affect my riding, no whacking or reprimanding needed.
Your attitude effects your equitation. Always visualize success instead of preparing for correction.... but it sounds like you are already in understanding of that ;)

naturalequus
Feb. 9, 2011, 03:43 PM
With his exceptional mind, I would be a fool not to! He's not actually lazy, but thinking of him as lazy will help me adjust myself as I need to. It takes more determination on my part to ride well if I don't feel as perfect!


Why I say he's not lazy: I'm guessing he runs about 15 miles a week on his own. I turn him out, and he gallops. It's an estimate based on how much time he spends galloping and the knowledge he wasn't the best race horse, but was intended for distance. When he sees me coming, he leaves his hay to stick his head over the fence and hold his halter out to me. Definitely more interested in work than food! And he practices dressage after finishing his runs. He has a set leg yield/haunches in/shoulder in sequence he repeats on long sides. Then he starts practicing transitions between working and extended trot across diagonals. Definitely not averse to work or forward!

I find we can also develop an exceptional mind by considering the horse. This is a partnership, not a dictatorship. When the horse feels its needs, wants, dignity etc are respected it will respond favourably in return.

Hah, I actually recall reading I think it was your latest post about him practising said exercises in his pasture! Scary thought! Makes me think that maybe I'm more right than I realise when I joke the horse must have been practising in their pasture/paddock between sessions... :winkgrin: :eek: They are so much more intelligent than we give them credit for sometimes and if we only give them the opportunity (ie, via correct schooling and treating them respectfully and as a partner), they flourish.

stryder
Feb. 9, 2011, 04:29 PM
I find we can also develop an exceptional mind by considering the horse. This is a partnership, not a dictatorship. When the horse feels its needs, wants, dignity etc are respected it will respond favourably in return.



Well put.

OP, you've said your horse looks forward to working with you, he seems willing to work hard, he's sensitive to your changing condition. How blessed you are, to have a partner who is tuned in to you and hasn't shut down because of an overbearing rider.

mickeydoodle
Feb. 9, 2011, 04:47 PM
It is a dictatorship, you are the dictator. I doubt he is feeling your illness, what he is feeling is your lack ot committment to his forward motion, and taking advantage of it. If the horse were really taking care of you, he would be more forward on your asthma days so you would have to work less hard to get him to go, and use up less energy/breath. :)

SisterToSoreFoot
Feb. 9, 2011, 04:56 PM
This statement is a bit depressing to me. I find that horses enjoy work and being ridden :yes:. It should be fun for them, and I find having a negative mindset like above is more stifling than the OP's perception.


Lighten up. She was asking for a peptalk and what I said in partly tongue-in-cheek. I still maintain that horses, even if they like the work, need strong leaders to really sparkle. They don't do it on their own. Horses can have fun and still be pushed to do better work.

naturalequus
Feb. 9, 2011, 04:59 PM
It is a dictatorship, you are the dictator. I doubt he is feeling your illness, what he is feeling is your lack ot committment to his forward motion, and taking advantage of it. If the horse were really taking care of you, he would be more forward on your asthma days so you would have to work less hard to get him to go, and use up less energy/breath. :)

For some, obviously. I still accomplish what I need and want - successfully - without a dictatorship. So do many others. There is a fine line between assertiveness (ie, leadership) within a partnership and oppressing a horse.

Why would a horse have more impulsion if it feels its rider lagging behind the motion/slouching/just plain old NQR?? He's not sitting their contemplating how hard his rider has to breathe lmao :lol: ...he's responding to his rider's projections.

analise
Feb. 9, 2011, 06:35 PM
Your attitude effects your equitation. Always visualize success instead of preparing for correction.... but it sounds like you are already in understanding of that ;)

This is so very true!

A few rides ago, I went into it with the thought of, "we are going to be FORWARD today, by God!" and you know what? I hardly had to work for it. My horse was just...forward.

Now I just have to keep that frame of mind for every ride (much more difficult!).

netg
Feb. 10, 2011, 12:35 PM
Well put.

OP, you've said your horse looks forward to working with you, he seems willing to work hard, he's sensitive to your changing condition. How blessed you are, to have a partner who is tuned in to you and hasn't shut down because of an overbearing rider.

The funny part is for whatever reason we just "clicked" instantly, before I ever got on him, and he wasn't a happy horse before I got him! I hear stories since he was in the barn before I got him/knew him, and he used to stand around with his ears back and nose wrinkled. I'm no fabulous rider - but somehow, the mental aspect of what he needed is there, and without knowing it, I found the horse who was exactly what *I* needed! He's something like my 7th horse, but absolutely the horse of a lifetime. I've loved them all, but he's just... different. I am definitely blessed to have him!

Oh, and yesterday we had more impulsion overall - everything was better, and we got what I think was probably more like a medium trot than just the trot lengthenings I've been working on learning to ride. Slower, much more air time, and as if the ground were just there for him to tap with his toes as he danced across it. The energy as I half halted him in the corner warned me it was coming. Awesome.

stryder
Feb. 10, 2011, 02:30 PM
Oh, and yesterday we had more impulsion overall - everything was better, and we got what I think was probably more like a medium trot than just the trot lengthenings I've been working on learning to ride. Slower, much more air time, and as if the ground were just there for him to tap with his toes as he danced across it. The energy as I half halted him in the corner warned me it was coming. Awesome.

Totally awesome. :yes:

Be aware of that relationship with him, cherish it, nurture it. Have a high expectation for himself and for you, and my guess is that he will meet it. Don't be afraid to raise the bar, don't settle for crap, but don't encourage him to set aside his apparent willingness to take care of you.

Dance together. Have fun!

lstevenson
Feb. 10, 2011, 03:54 PM
So I love very forward horses. My horse is one on a normal day. However, if he feels anything "off" with me, he instead tries to babysit and drag his toes and move like a slug.

Yesterday was one example, and I knew it was coming before I rode. It was windy and cold (well, the wind was cold) so my asthma was acting up. My inhaler was keeping me breathing ok, just not my normal breathing. My horse, being a saint about that sort of thing, decided it meant he had to go slowly and take care of me. (He still went each gait I requested, and as he seems to think trot lengthenings are a different gait than trot, he went right into them when requested, so certainly it was nothing wrong with him.)


I need to talk myself into pushing for forward more when he's like that. He's trying to be a good boy, so certainly doesn't need punishment, and he WILL go more forward... if I talk myself into it. So please give me a "you're ruining your horse if you're not working him properly!" lecture to remind me to not be lazy even on the days he's not as forward as I'm used to. My trainer's too nice, and just nicely tells me to work on having him more forward all the time. :)



I think it's really quite simple. If it's YOU, and you are not riding forward, you must ride forward. If you don't feel well enough to ride your best, maybe it's a good day for a hack. :)

If your horse is not obeying your light aid to go forward, you need to do something about it - immediately. And every time. It's unfair to expect him to go forward sometimes, when you let him off the hook at other times. You know what they say: Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. You don't want to practice with him behind your leg.

Forward from the leg is non negotiable! It's the key to everything else.




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netg
Feb. 23, 2011, 06:55 PM
A leetle update.

Our forward has been working REALLY well, since it cooled off a lot! And then yesterday, another lesson (he had been good in other lessons since) and he was LAZY! Apparently he was still more forward than he had been up to that point, but lazier than he has been when I've been riding alone. Methinks I ride more conservatively when my trainer's there! She thought he looked great, though - he's getting more and more uphill, and his canter is improving crazily as we do most of our work at a trot.

So yesterday at one point he didn't listen to my "GO!" command, and got a not-as-little-as-usual tap with the whip... resulting in a buck, a kick out, a fart, and the return of forward. Funniest. Horse. Ever!